Family mourns 15-year-old girl killed in Texas shootings: 'It's just so hard'
A 15-year-old girl, who had just celebrated her quinceañera several months ago, was among the seven who were killed after a gunman opened fire throughout multiple parts of Texas's Odessa-Midland region on Saturday, the Washington Post reports.
Leilah Hernandez and her family were accompanying her 18-year-old brother Nathan as he picked up a truck at an auto dealership when a gunman randomly opened fire from a car, Hernandez's grandmother Levya said.
"I guess he was just looking for someone to kill," she told the newspaper.
The shooting prompted Leilah's mother to push her 9-year-old son under a car. Nathan reportedly wrapped his arms around his sister, taking a bullet in his right arm. The next bullet hit Leilah's left shoulder and through her collarbone, Levya said. At that point, all the 15-year-old could muster saying was, "Help me, help me," the grandmother added.
Though paramedics purportedly arrived 20 minutes later, they were too late. Officers at the scene had attempted to put pressure on Leilah's wounds from both sides, but "it was just too much blood coming out," Levya recalled. By the time responders took the teen's brother away in an ambulance, they told him his sister did not make it.
At the time of her death, Leilah, who attended Odessa High School and celebrated her quinceañera — a coming-of-age event — in May, was just figuring out what she wanted to do in life, Levya told the Post. Though she lived happily, she had allegedly cried the week before her death after several students had picked on her.
"It's just so hard," Levya said. "I'm not going to be seeing her no more."
In the wake of Leilah's death, her mother has been tending to Nathan, who is being treated in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Odessa, according to the grandmother. Levya added that her daughter is somewhat relieved to be at the hospital since she fears going home to Leilah's room.
The Ector County Independent School District, which encompasses Odessa High School, confirmed that a student was among the dead but did not specifically name Leilah. It did, however, issue a statement on Facebook in the aftermath of the shooting.
"We are heartbroken and outraged by the violence that struck our community and our school district today," the statement read. "Our lives have been changed forever."
Over the weekend, a 36-year-old gunman, who reportedly had just been let go from his job, opened fire after being pulled over on an interstate for a routine traffic stop. Authorities said the man fired several shots at the patrol car that had stopped him before he began firing at random as he drove through Odessa and Midland. In the process, seven people, including Leilah, were killed while at least 22 others, including a 17-month-old toddler, were injured.
Police used a marked SUV to ram the gunman's vehicle before he was killed in a shootout. Saturday's shooting comes less than a month after another gunman opened fire and killed at least 22 people at a shopping area in El Paso, Texas.